AWEJ Volume.4 Number.2, 2013                                                                      Pp.298-309

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The Linguistic Adjustments of the ACT-R Model to the Acquisition of the Simple Past Tense in the Arab Learners of English Context


Anwar Mourssi
Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education,
University of the West of England, Bristol, UK


The Adaptive Control of Thought-Rational ACT-R model (Taatgen and Anderson, 2002) is one of the most recent computational models of the acquisition of simple past morphology. This empirical study focuses on the ACT-R model which is proposed in order to explain and predict language acquisition behaviour which may be relevant to the SLA of the simple past and the grammatical construction. The study was conducted on 74 Arab Learners of English (ALEs) which lasted four months. Quantitative and qualitative analysis show that the language behaviour of most of the second language learners can be explained drawing on a recent computational model of the acquisition of simple past morphology, namely the ACT-R model. Linguistic adjustments have been made by the researcher to the ACT-R model, which suggested two more strategies are added to the four strategies proposed by Taatgen and Anderson (2002) and updated by Taatgen and Dijkstra (2005). These two added strategies, namely, the L1 Transfer Strategy and the Overgeneralization of Alternative Category Strategy could capture all forms produced by the ALEs in the acquisition of the simple past tense in the three chronological writing, which the ACT-R model could not capture. The findings of the study reveal that the majority of the learners seemed to follow the six strategies proposed in the adjusted ACT-R model which can best accounted for in the acquisition of the simple past tense in the context of the ALEs.
Keywords: ACT-R model, U-shaped learning model, Crosslinguistic influence, overgeneralization, simple past



Anwar Mourssi received his M.A in TESL/TEFL from Birmingham University/UK in 2006,
and his PhD in Applied Linguistics from University of the West of England, Bristol/UK in 2012.
His major field of study is Second Language Acquisition and he is interested in error analysis,
FFI and ELT methods. Currently he is assistant professor at Higher College of Technology,
Muscat, Oman.